With international students from both EU and non-EU countries making up around a fifth of the university student population in the UK, what should employers within graduate recruitment programmes be bearing in mind?
1. For the time being, EU nationals have the right to work in the UK.
The UK government has reached an agreement with the EU on citizens’ rights. As a EU citizen, this agreement will protect the rights of EU citizens after Brexit.
An EU citizen will be able to apply for either settled or pre-settled status from March 2019. If granted either of these statuses, the EU citizen can continue living in the UK – as they would now – post December 2020.
To be eligible for settled status, the EU citizen must have been living in the UK continuously for 5 years. If they have not lived in the UK for 5 years by December 2020, they will then be eligible for pre-settled status.
2. Work permit sponsorship for non-EEA national graduates is easier than you think.
It is in fact easier to provide Tier 2 (General) sponsorships for recent graduates from UK universities due to a number of concessions and exemptions, such as an exemption from completing the Resident Labour Market Test. This means the employer does not need to justify why they are offering employment to a non-EEA national ahead of a resident worker.
In addition to this, the salary thresholds are lower provided the role on offer is a graduate level job paying above the minimum salary threshold.
3. Switching from Tier 4 (General) Student visas to Tier 2 (General) visas.
Until recently, a Tier 4 (General) Student needed to have successfully completed and passed their university degree before switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa.
Under the current rules, students can now apply as soon as they have completed a degree level course. For example, students are now able to apply to switch as soon as their thesis is submitted. For undergraduate and taught Masters, students can apply once they have sat their exams.
PhD students, however, are still required to have completed 12 months of study towards their PhD to be able to switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa.
4. Tier 4 (General) Students can work on Tier 4 visas but…
A non-EEA national who holds a Tier 4 (General) Student visa is generally given an additional four months of valid leave after the scheduled end of their course of study. During this time, the Tier 4 General (Student) is able to work, however they are not allowed to fill a full-time permanent vacancy. Temporary, fixed-term employment, such as an internship, is allowed.
5. Graduated applying for a Tier 2 (General) visa from outside the UK.
While employing recent graduates from UK universities provides certain exemptions, if an employer wishes to recruit a graduate who studied outside the UK, or graduates who studied at UK universities but returned to their home, they will not enjoy the aforementioned exemptions.
Employing graduates from outside the UK may require the role to be advertised in accordance with the UK Resident Labour Market test first.
Gherson has extensive experience dealing with UK Sponsor Licences, as well as Tier 4 and Tier 2 visas. Should you require any assistance or advise, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.